Warm tributes have been paid this week to “a great family man,” John Dunne who passed away unexpectedly at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where he had undergone a heart transplant on Christmas Eve.
“We are trying to make sense of it all,” said Mr. Dunne’s grieving widow Cathleen this week.
She was with her husband of 22 years when he “slipped away” on Sunday. Heartbreakingly, Cathleen had to make the journey home to their daughters Áine (21) and Emer (16) without John.
“It was very, very hard to come back to the girls without their daddy,” she said.
Mr. Dunne had been in hospital since September, when he was placed on the urgent list for a heart transplant. The operation took place on Christmas Eve and initially doctors were happy with the results. However, in recent weeks there had been various problems with his health and he sadly died on Sunday.
“It had got to the stage with his illness that he knew a transplant was the only option,” said Mrs. Dunne. “He had been in good form and there was a man from Beragh in the bed beside him. He was called John too – they kept each other going. John was very sociable, he would talk to anyone and everyone,” she added.
“We communicated through nods. He was aware of what was going on around him but he couldn’t talk.
“The doctors did everything they could for him. They would sort out one problem and another would come along. On Sunday John slipped away,” said Mrs. Dunne.
She described Mr. Dunne as “a loving husband and father,” adding: “He was a great family man. He lived for me and the girls.”
A keen sportsman in the eighties and nineties, Mr. Dunne played hurling for Enniskillen Gaels and also represented Fermanagh with a hurl in hand. He enjoyed playing soccer for Enniskillen Rangers.
“He was very passionate about hurling. He would watch gaelic football too, but he thought hurling was a more skilful game,” explained Mrs. Dunne. “He was a great Liverpool fan – soccer was his thing,” she added.
A minutes silence will be observed at all Fermanagh and Western fixtures this weekend in memory of Mr. Dunne who was the brother-in-law of League Chairman Neil Jardine and League Vice-Chairman Enda Love.
Enniskillen Gaels posted on their facebook page: “John was a popular clubman, having played both football and hurling for the Gaels. He was a member of the last Gaels team to bring a Fermanagh Senior Hurling Championship title to the club.”
Enniskillen Rangers also offered their condolences and described Mr. Dunne as “a valuable and popular clubman.”
Mr. Dunne is survived by his wife Cathleen, his daughters Áine and Emer, his father Gregory and his siblings Annette, Cyril and Kieran.
His funeral arrangements will be made once the bereavement team at the Freeman Hospital are permitted by the Coroner to return his body to Enniskillen.